Saturday, October 22, 2011


And speaking of cartoon characters in despair....

Andy Panda in his 1940s heyday

The unfortunate Walter Tetley
I have written before of my appreciation for the bizarre and underrated cartoons of Walter Lantz. Last time, I praised the 1954 Woody Woodpecker cartoon Alley to Bali, but this time I want to shine the spotlight on Apple Andy (1946), a vehicle for one of Lantz's lesser-known creations, Andy Panda. Frankly, Andy is not too terribly interesting as a character. He's just a plucky and mildly mischievous young panda bear with a regrettably low IQ. What personality he has is bestowed upon him by Walter Tetley, a familiar radio and cartoon actor (he was Sherman in Peabody's Improbable History) whose voice remained in a perpetual state of preadolescence, allowing him to play child parts well into adulthood. The exact cause of Tetley's odd voice is unclear; it is generally thought to be the result of a medical condition, though one of his costars claims the actor had been castrated! Walter Lantz seemed to have a knack for cartoons about characters being tortured for their indiscretions, and Apple Andy is another superb example. As in Alley to Bali, our protagonist is tempted into committing one of the Deadly Sins by another character, then is cast into Hell and undergoes a series of strange punishments before escaping at the very end. Woody Woodpecker's sin was Lust, while Andy's is Gluttony. While the woodpecker wanted to make time with a mysterious Balinese woman, Andy just wants to steal some apples. In classic cartoon fashion, an angel and a devil materialize and wage a war for Andy's soul. But like Woody before him, Andy is morally weak and gives into temptation. Goaded by a satanic fellow panda, Andy eats a pile of green (meaning unripe) apples which have been spray-painted red. This is where the cartoon takes a turn for the surreal and disturbing. I don't want to give away any of the surprises, but listen for the great song "Up Jumped The Devil (In the White Nightgown)" along the way and keep an eye out for some weirdly sexualized apple cores:

The bizarrely alluring "Apple Core-Us Girls" from Apple Andy

You can watch the whole cartoon right here.

If you liked Apple Andy, be sure to check out these terrific studies over at the Screwy Sketchblog!

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